PETALING JAYA: Two groups and an MP have spoken up on the need to abolish capital punishment and for a moratorium on all pending executions until a decision is made by the government on this.
In their statements in conjunction with the World Day Against the Death Penalty today, they said it had been proven globally that this punishment had failed to deter criminals.
In recognition of this year’s theme, “Women sentenced to or facing the death penalty”, Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto highlighted the 129 women on death row in Malaysia as of last year, adding that this was about 16% of all the women sentenced to death globally.
“Of the 144 countries that have abolished the death penalty in practice and law, Malaysia remains one of the few countries among the 51 that still believe that executing people will cause crime rates to reduce, to act as a deterrent or, worse, for justice to be served.
“Over the years, the number of men and women on death row in Malaysia has increased. But there is no sign of a reduction, with the crime rate still remaining high.”
She said that while abolition rarely received overwhelming support, the government must not avoid the issue in favour of “fame and popularity”, and must invest tirelessly in reforms to prevent the crimes that have long been punished with the death penalty, like drug trafficking offences.
Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) meanwhile said that while positive progress had been made towards that end, such as the country voting in December 2020 for a moratorium on the use of capital punishment at the United Nations General Assembly, more work still needs to be done in pursuit of total abolition.
It called on the federal and state governments to push for the Rulers to grant pardons and commute the sentences of those on death row until all forms of capital punishment — mandatory and discretionary — can be officially abolished.
The group also said that inquiries must be conducted into cases where police kill a suspect to determine whether it was an “indirect death penalty” performed by the state or its agents.
It said while the last three governments had made some improvements, they were not as wide-reaching and comprehensive as many had hoped for, and called upon the new government to “finally abolish the death penalty, and until then continue to maintain a moratorium on executions”.
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) reiterated its call for an end to executions too, “in line with the belief in a person’s fundamental right to life”.
It encouraged the government to follow through on its plans to scrap the death penalty, as stated by former law minister Liew Vui Keong, who in 2019 said a bill to do so was being prepared for tabling in Parliament.
The group called for the release of the report and recommendations developed by the special committee, established by the late Liew, to allow legislators and policy makers to do what’s necessary to expedite an end to capital punishment.
“Further, Suhakam encourages the initiative announced by the government in 2020, to set up a Law Reform Commission to study existing laws as well as sentencing procedures and, if found to be outdated or archaic, to recommend for the necessary amendments or repeal, thereby enabling Malaysia to be in line with international human rights standards.”